Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ASU president pushes for passage of 'Dream Act'


Arizona State University President Michael Crow is pushing for passage of a federal law that would enable illegal immigrant students to remain in the United States, get their college degrees and have a path to citizenship. The bill, called the "Dream Act," has been introduced several times in recent years but has not been approved by Congress.
Crow sent a two-page letter recently to four U.S. senators who are supporters of the legislation and/or in leadership roles in the Senate. ASU officials said they also sent the letter to some other members of Congress, including those from Arizona.
It was signed by eight other university presidents, including Mark G. Yudof, president of the University of California system, and Charles B. Reed, president of the California State University system. The letter urges Congress to pass the measure as stand-alone legislation or as part of comprehensive immigration reform.
The letter says that undocumented high school graduates who want to obtain a college education are being thwarted by the country's dysfunctional immigration system.
"These are students brought to the United States as children, innocents caught up in the middle of the immigration debate," the letter says. "The decision to come to this country was not theirs. But America is the only home they have known and they have spent their young lives being good students, working hard and staying out of trouble."
The letter goes on to detail the benefits of a college education: higher wages, lower crime rates and less likely to end up on public assistance.
Over the past year, various college presidents have come out in support of the Dream Act, including Harvard President Drew Gilpin, University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutman and Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow, among others.
The latest version of the "Dream Act," introduced in March 2009 would apply to people under age 35 who entered the U.S. before age 16 and have been in the country at least five consecutive years. They have to graduate from a U.S. high school, or have obtained a GED or be accepted at a college or university. They also have to be of "good moral character," although the legislation doesn't define exactly what that means. Students would get conditional permanent residency, meaning they couldn't be deported for being here illegally while they are in school. They would eventually be able to apply for legal residency and then to be a U.S. citizen.
The letter signed by the college presidents asks Congress to go a step further and allow Dream Act students to be eligible for federal financial aid. Illegal immigrants currently cannot get federal financial aid, such as federal student loans or Pell grants, to attend school.
The letter was also signed by presidents from the University of Washington, the University of Minnesota, the University of Utah, Washington State University, the University of New Mexico and Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich.
The letter was sent to Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the sponsor of the 2009 Dream Act legislation, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Indiana). Durbin sponsored the legislation and Lugar and Schumer are co-sponsors.
crossposted from LiveWireBlog/azcentral.com

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